joy - whole30 mushroom and asparagus cauliflower risotto

Joy, Cozy Weekends, and Whole30 Mushroom Asparagus Cauliflower Risotto

Although I knew that it would come up quickly as soon as we had finalized the decision to move back to the US, I have to say that I am still shocked by the fact that we will be sailing away less than 7 weeks from now. There are a multitude of things that I will really miss about Ireland and our lives here, most especially the friends I have made of course, but also the little things like walks to Coco and Lulu’s favorite park, the familiar faces of the baristas at Cork Coffee Roasters, “our spot” at The Spitjack and the Sweet Potato Toast there, and the ability to pack up for a European city break over a long weekend. In fact, the sheer amount of public holidays and vacation time here will be sorely missed.  The past weekend represented the last of those bank holidays until Christmas which meant Jazz Weekend here in Cork.  Because our anniversary is so close to this one, we have usually snapped up the opportunity to go away for one of those aforementioned weekend trips, but this year it’s safe to say that we have plenty to do around home in preparation for the move.  So we stayed home and enjoyed the extra day off.

Far less glamorous than years past, the last few days have meant a lot of administrative tasks and errands, some deep cleaning and packing, and a healthy balance between hanging around the house in comfy cozy workout clothes and being out in the decidedly crisp autumn air.  Although I think that I always appreciated the brilliant colors of fall to some extent, I feel that this year in particular I have been awestruck and very aware of the positive effect that savoring the prettiness of fall has had on me.  In fact, I’ve noticed myself spending more time actually paying attention and appreciating the change in seasons all year.  And I’ve been surprised to notice how much that has increased my enjoyment of it all and my joy overall.

Recently I watched Ingrid Fetell Lee’s TED Talk, “Where joy hides and how to find it,”which presented an interesting viewpoint on the power of aesthetics to influence subjective wellbeing.  As a designer, Fetell Lee became fascinated by the fact that tangible objects could often spark a very real, but intangible feeling of joy.  Therefore she set out to investigate when and how people experienced joy and ended up discerning several predictable patterns.  In that Ted Talk and on her website she outlines many of the key distinguishing factors of design which, aesthetically, predict joy – bright colors, round shapes, symmetry, lightness, abundance, etc.  The things that people routinely claimed evoked a positive, joyful emotion, were things like beachballs, googly eyes, ice cream cones with sprinkles, and confetti.  But more interesting to me was her conclusion that “these little moments of joy often have a halo effect, where their impact reaches beyond the moment of joy itself. In several important ways, those little moments of joy add up to more than the sum of their parts.  And over time, their cumulative effect can lead to greater happiness.”

And I think that rings true based upon my increased attentiveness to and much deeper appreciation for the changing seasons. Looking at beautiful things like an impossibly symmetrical maple leaf with the most intense crimson ombre effect does add to my experience of life, not only because it is beautiful, but also because it grounds me to the present.  By savoring the season and all the little things it brings, I am not worried about my transition back to the State and not thinking about the many, many hours of packing and unpacking that await me.  Plus there’s a spillover effect in learning to savor which allows me to enjoy the chat with friends over coffee on Saturday, as opposed to lamenting how much I will miss them (the whole time at least).

Learning to savor is an ongoing concerted effort for a Type A, go-go-GO person like me, but I do know that it is well worth the effort – whether that means staying home with Jon and the pups, admiring nature, or making a classically slow dinner option like risotto.  Thankfully, this Whole30 Mushroom Asparagus Cauliflower Risotto is much less laborious than its arborio forefather, but still just as cozy, delicious and savory, something which sparks joy for me.

joy - whole30 mushroom asparagus cauliflower risottojoy - whole30 mushroom asparagus cauliflower risottojoy - whole30 mushroom asparagus cauliflower risotto

Whole30 Mushroom Asparagus Cauliflower Risotto

Serves: 4

  • Ghee 2 TBSP
  • Yellow Onion, Diced .25 cup (25 g)
  • Garlic Cloves, Minced 4 each
  • Mushrooms, Sliced .5 cup (38 g)
  • Asparagus, chopped into .5-1" spears .5 cup (65 g)
  • Full Fat Coconut Milk .5 cup (120 ml)
  • Cauliflower Rice 3 cups (200 g)
  • Sea Salt and Black Pepper to Taste
  1. Melt the ghee/clarified butter in a medium skillet over medium heat and then add the onions and garlic, sautéing until softened and somewhat translucent, about 2-3 minutes.
  2. Then add the sliced mushrooms and asparagus and cook for another 3-5 minutes until slightly softened/cooked through.
  3. Stir in the cauliflower rice and coconut milk and cook for another 4 minutes or until softened through and the coconut milk is mostly absorbed.
  4. Season with salt and pepper and then enjoy with protein option of your choice.


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